Date of Award

Fall 2023

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Remington J Moll

Second Advisor

Fikirte Erda

Third Advisor

Adrienne I Kovach


Urbanization is increasing worldwide, with over half the world’s population living in urban areas. Urbanization impacts wildlife by fragmenting habitat and restricting space use, which can in turn lead to a decrease in biodiversity, ecosystem services, and species abundance. In some cases, wildlife can adapt to land-use change present in urban areas and will respond positively to urbanization. In these cases, urbanization can create new niches and enhance niche partitioning. With increased urban growth, suburban and exurban sprawl has also increased. Globally, this “exurbanization” is the most rapidly developing land use type, though research into the impacts of exurban development on wildlife is limited. In this thesis, I examined how various mammalian wildlife species responded to human development in exurban areas. I utilized camera trap data from cameras established throughout southeastern New Hampshire. In Chapter 1, I examined the differences between mammalian wildlife activity levels and patterns between rural and exurban landscapes. I found strong variation among the mammal species in our analysis, which demonstrates that wildlife responses to exurban development are species- and season-specific. In Chapter 2, I examined six different features of urban development at five different spatial scales. I fit a Bayesian hierarchical model to camera trap data to assess how mammal relative abundance changed with variation in these features across scales. The results demonstrated that there was no uniform response across species to each feature, and a species’ response to urban development was dependent on the feature and the scale. This research serves to highlight the importance of studying wildlife in exurban regions, as this is the frontier of human development and its impacts on wildlife.